How to clearly define your Sales Qualified Leads

What to think about BEFORE you start your Inbound Marketing campaign

Your sales team costs money to run, right? And clearly, you need to see an ROI from your outlay.

That means you need to have a system in place to generate qualified leads. These are the right kind of leads for your sales guys to chew on… leads that are pre-qualified, tick all the boxes, and are close to the point of making a buying decision. 

That is EXACTLY what a well-run Inbound Marketing strategy does.

If you don’t have this sorted, you can lose a LOAD of opportunity. Week after week.

Instead of giving their attention to qualified leads, your sales team will be wasting time talking to… following up… dealing with… chasing down… people who are not yet ready to buy.

Or in some cases, who never will be ready to buy.

Time wasted.png

In this article, we’ll go behind the scenes, and explain how, as a digital marketing agency, Crockford Carlisle works with our clients to filter out the tyre-kickers, find qualified leads, and deliver a higher return on investment in both marketing and sales.

First, the big picture. Essentially, it’s a three-step process where:

  1. Together — Sales and Marketing decide the criteria for a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL).
  2. Marketing — runs your Inbound campaign to generate and nurture leads until the SQL criteria are met.
  3. Sales — takes them at a ‘handover’, and progresses them through the sales process.


Your marketing agency must work closely with your sales team so you are all on the same page

I can’t stress the importance of this to you enough. 

Too often, the two areas operate in silos — and the loss of opportunity is significant. 

I’ve often wondered why this happens. I think the main reason is that management somehow thinks that ‘marketing’ is about a nice brochure… or a new website… or some signage on vehicles... or “getting the name/brand out there”.

 Yes, they are all important parts of brand development. They need to be done to high standards.


In all the excitement of getting that new website organised, the bigger picture (generating Sales Qualified Leads) is forgotten, and there is no plan or system for pulling everything together.

It’s something you need to watch out for at your business.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say that you might want to keep this red flag in mind when hiring your web developer, “SEO guy”, or marketing agency.

If the conversation doesn’t go towards business objectives, lead generation, and delivering Sales Qualified Leads pretty early in the piece, (the very first meeting would be a good time!), then you might be talking to the people with the wrong skill set.

According to research from MarketingProfs, the overall increase in revenue when your two teams are aligned is staggering.

Aligned Sales.png

OK, so we’ve looked at WHY you need to have your marketing and sales teams working together. 

Now, let’s look at HOW to figure out who your Sales Qualified Leads are.

So, who is your sales team’s “Sales Qualified Lead”?

The first thing to do is to clearly define what constitutes a Sales Qualified Lead for your business.

This is someone who ticks all the boxes, and is likely to convert into a sale. 

In other words, they are someone that your sales team wants to talk to.

Confession time: I mucked this up for years with our own business.

I was so excited about doing great marketing work and talking to people about what we could do for them, I didn’t stop to figure out that not all of them were a good match.

  • I’d spend hours talking to a marketing manager and putting together a detailed proposal… only to discover too late that senior management hadn’t given them the authority to act.
  • I’d have people in for hour-long meetings, only to discover that they were a start-up and had no budget for a serious marketing effort.
  • I’d go through all the rigmarole of thinking through a digital strategy and developing a proposal — only to discover that the potential client’s idea of a digital strategy was building a $2,000 website overseas — of course, with no ongoing marketing to support it.



I console myself with the knowledge that you will have done this too at some point. Reading my Bullet Points Of Misery will surely bring a tear of nostalgia to your eye, yes?

So that’s the past.

“Onward!” he cried…

Today, when we on-board a new client, we want to understand what their SQL looks like. That will be the guiding light as we structure their Inbound Marketing campaign. 

Sometimes they already have it figured out.

Sometimes they have a vague idea.

I don’t know where you are on this in your business. But if you haven’t nailed it down, here’s a quick overview of the type of things to consider as you clarify it.

A good starting point is “BANT”.

That is, a person needs to tick these four boxes before they are called a Sales Qualified Lead: 

  1. Budget — does your potential buyer have the budget to pay for your services or products?
  2. Authority — are you talking to the right person in the organisation?
  3. Need — do they have a need… do they have a problem that you can solve?
  4. Timing — are they ready to do something about it now? Or reasonably soon?


There might be other issues as well, depending on how your business operates. For example:

  • If you have sales reps in different locations, then geography might be a consideration.
  • If you have sales reps who specialise in different products/services, then the specific requirements of the potential buyer be a consideration.

Let’s say that you are in the business of waterproofing buildings and repairing leaking roofs.

Your expertise is with large commercial buildings, you don’t do cheap/budget work and you don’t cut corners with safety.


You DON’T want to residential work, fixing the roof for Mr & Mrs Fudpucker. 

Therefore, the profile of your Sales Qualified Lead might be:
  • Operations Manager or Property Manager or owner
  • Building of at least 5,000 square metres
  • Non-asbestos roofing
  • Roof is repairable (Doesn’t need replacing)
  • Has an appropriate budget to commission the work
  • Has an issue with foundation walls seeping, minor cracking, or leaking roof
  • Is looking for a quality repair that will last
  • Sees value in high safety standards when work is being done on site
  • Is in Sydney or Brisbane

When they tick all those boxes, they are a Sales Qualified Lead.

However you define them, you can see why it’s so important to communicate this information to your marketing team.

After all, if you want your marketing agency to serve up Sales Qualified Leads to your sales team, then they clearly need to know what your ideal buyer looks like, right? 

NOW your marketing agency knows who to aim for!

Once we know what constitutes a Sales Qualified Lead for your business, it is time for your digital marketing agency to walk in the shoes of your potential customers, and craft content for your website to attract them into your funnel. 

From there, they can be nurtured through the four steps of the Inbound Marketing methodology.


As potential buyers interact with your site, engage on landing pages and consume content, your agency will set up forms that ask questions — progressively building a profile of each person as they move towards the point of being a Sales Qualified Lead.

(You can learn more about how forms work in this article, which explains how many questions you can ask on a website form.)

Once a person has been identified as a Sales Qualified Lead with the help of this information gathering, they can be handed over to your sales team to progress them through the sales process.

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Need help with identifying your SQLs? Talk to us

As you can appreciate, this is a whole different level of thinking from the old approach of having your marketing team and your sales team in different siloes.

Different businesses and agencies handle this in different ways, but at Crockford Carlisle, we are great believers in having specific goals and objectives, with an eye for continuous improvement. 

For this reason, we want to have a monthly meeting (Skype or face-to-face) with our clients so we know how things are going with lead volume and quality.

As the campaign matures, we may also identify additional Buyer Personas that can be targeted with the Inbound Campaign, and build out the content to reach those as well.

This enables a client to reach a wider market, and see an even greater ROI.

Bringing your marketing and sales teams together makes a lot of sense. And as those research numbers show, 208% more revenue is not to be sneezed at!

If you’d like to have a chat about your sales process, and how you can integrate your marketing and sales efforts, please call us on (07) 3891 3800.

Although we are based in Brisbane, we help clients all over Australia to generate more leads, and I’m sure you’ll find that a quick chat will be helpful.


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